More needs to be done to improve public service in the country, my dear PMX

DURING his meeting with business executives in the US recently, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (PMX) heard it himself that there is too much red tape in getting approvals to conduct business in Malaysia.

This has been going on for many decades now. Despite Malaysia having over 1.66 million public servants or one of the highest per capita in the region, its public delivery service is still largely inefficient.

Efforts by PEMUDAH (the Special Taskforce to Facilitate Business) in the past to streamline the approval processes have apparently gone down the drain.

It is not only business approvals. It is the entire system of government that will eventually slow down the reforms that PMX seeks to implement. Not only the PMX is frustrated, many netizens as well as titled individuals can express the same frustrations.

This prompted former civil servant Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam to ask, “Could the investment approval delays be due to considerations for corruption?” He suggested that that the government should take immediate action against the culprits involved and to show that it means business.

Examples aplenty

Take for example, the case of activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye who complained to the manager of the Taman Pudu Ulu Park in Kuala Lumpur, followed by another complaint to the Director of Landscaping at Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).

Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL)


Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye (Pic credit: New Straits Times)

The former Bukit Bintang MP had also attempted to make appointment through the mayor’s personal assistant for over a month but to no avail.

Lee finally took it to the media to highlight the problems. Considering that the park was one of the venues for the 29th SEA Games as well as the location for the Kuala Lumpur Orchid and Bonsai Show in 2017, its poor maintenance is worrying Lee.

“It was only after a month since the article appeared in StarMetro that DBKL responded to say that the park is unsafe,” the social activist pointed out. “For the sake of public safety, DBKL should have made the announcement earlier after it was first told of the condition.”

The first article headlined, “No Progress in Park Maintenance, Says NGO” appeared in StarMetro on Aug 16. DBKL’s response in a media statement was only issued about a month later.

Because Lee’s attempt to meet the mayor had been futile, FocusM has taken the initiative to be the intermediary by exchanging their mobile numbers. In today’s widely-connected world, there is no reason why appointments could not be fixed via text messages without even to go through the personal assistant.

It is little wonder that even billionaire Elon Musk does not have a personal assistant to keep his diary.

On another matter, when FocusM has also highlighted to DBKL about parking operators in places like Petaling Street charging as high as RM10 per entry but nothing has been done to regulate the fees.

Similarly, a mother, who prefers to remain anonymous, said she has to fork out an additional RM2 daily just to send and pick up her child from a home school in M-Avenue, Segambut. “Can parking operators set their own rules?” she asked. “Where are the regulators?”

FocusM has also highlighted complaints about extensions by restaurant operators on the M-Avenue boulevard but has yet to receive an official response from DBKL

Perhaps, what House Buyers Association (HBA) secretary-general Datuk Chang Kim Loong suggested may eventually work: “Get rid of the dead wood in civil service and in the other democratic institutions. Appoint senior staff based on merits not on parental connections or networking.”

A better suggestion for the Madani government would be to take the cue from Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay who recently warned that senior police officers would face the music if they failed to monitor or discipline their subordinates.

Together we improve

Stretching it further, the bureaucracy exists even with the PMX’s own aide. To meet a pressing deadline, FocusM was trying to obtain a comment from PMX but he was unable to respond.

Understandably, PMX cannot respond to everything due to his busyness but when he has the time, he does respond even with a short text.

However, on checking with his aide, the response received was cold: “Any official doc through office e-mail.” Due to the pressing deadline, sometimes it is not possible for the press to go through the official channel.

This is highlighted not for anyone to retaliate back but together, the culture must change. When improvement is seen after being placed in the spotlight, credit must now be given to the Selayang Municipal Council (MPS).

In an earlier article, FocusM highlighted that some senior government officers including MPS council president Datuk Mohd Yazid Sairi have taken the liberty to omit their e-mail contacts. A check of the website shows that his e-mail contact has at least been inserted together with his photograph. – Sept 26, 2023

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